Welkom - Stuart White, Craig Jarvis and Stephen Young took their Formula Renault to a hard-fought win in Saturday’s Phakisa Six Hour, after a race-long duel that raged through to the final minutes of the race.
Bloemfontein-based White came out from the Fantastic Racing team’s final pit stop in third, 30 seconds behind Cape Town father and son team, Marcel and Dayne Angel in the race-leading Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458 GT3, with another Cape team - Nick Adcock, Johan Engelbrecht and Dane Michael Jensen - in a Ligier JS53 Honda second, just six seconds behind the Ferrari with half an hour to race.
With nothing to lose and history to be made, 17-year-old White put foot, taking a couple of seconds a lap out of Jensen in the Ligier, who was in turn closing on Dayne Angel in the race-leading Ferrari.
Eight minutes bfore the flag Jensen passed Angel for the lead, but a lap later White powered past both to become the youngest winner of an endurance race in South African motorsport history, while Jensen and Angel chased him all the way to the line to finish second and third respectively, with the Ferrari also tops in the GT class.
Jaki Scheckter and Greg Parton finished fourth, three laps down, in the Drizit Lamborghini Huraçan Supertrofeo, with Fritz Kleynhans and James Forbes’ Comenius Ligier JS53 Honda a further five laps adrift in fifth overall, while 2016 winner Charl Arangies and Kishoor Pitamber did well to fight back from stone last to sixth in the Stradale Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 after sorting out a mid-race gremlin.
The fight for seventh could well have been labelled the Grandpa Prix as 71-year-old Sarel Van der Merwe battled home on shagged rubber in the Team Africa Le Mans Ginetta G55 he shared with rally veteran Geoff Mortimer (who will be 82 later this year!) and Dr Greg Mills (a spring chicken at 56).
He came under intense pressure in the closing stages from Theo van Vuuren in the Arnold Chatz Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta, with which he and Bradley Scorer had led the Touring Car category all day. Van Vuuren finally caught and passed Supervan on the penultimate lap.
The next four places were taken by South African-built sports-racing cars: Trevor Graham and Brian Martin’s Toyota V8-powered Backdraft Cobra finished ninth, with Josh Dovey and Gerald Wright in the Sports 2000 Opel rounding out the top 10, ahead of the Peter Schmidt-Loffler/Anton Muller/Glenton Rebello Nash Motorsport MVW-Volkswagen and Nicholas and Ronald van Weely, in their homegrown Van Weely-Volkswagen Special.
Richard de Roos and Stefan Snyders’ Porsche Boxster V8 finished 13th, ahead of the second Nash MVW-Volkswagen (Andrew Teixeira/Jackie and Jody Morrison), the 7 Boys Locost Seven of Estelle Vermooten, Gerdus Smit and Klippies Krige, the brand new Toyota V8-engined Bateleur Backdraft Cobra, which gave Mike Schmidt and Bruce Avern-Taplin all sorts of teething problems in its debut outing, and the classic 1976 Mercedes 280 CE of Hubi von Moltke, Stuart Grant and Jose Vasques, who cruised home in 17th as the last classified finisher - out of no fewer than 35 starters.
The most significant retirement was that of the Chevrolet V8-powered SMR Ginetta G57 of Gavin Cronje and Simon Murray. Cronje put the Ginetta on pole with the fastest lap ever officially recorded at Phakisa.
They and the Renault put up a superb dice for the lead, with the Ginetta setting the fastest lap of the race before it stopped at mid-distance due to clutch failure caused by a minor spin.